dis/diss/differently/abled

While every disabled person will have their own take on this for themselves (and i totally recognize and respect that some of us do use this term), i am not “differently abled” and i kindly ask that you not insist on calling me that. It may seem like a trivial thing, but it’s not.

When you call me “differently abled” (in most cases this is regarding your perceptions and interpretations of my body), you are obscuring (however intentional or not) the reality that what is actually going on is in part just an ableist social construction made architectural: some people are actively ENabled to be part of their communities/ neighbourhoods/ spaces/ etc, and some of us are actively DISabled from doing so specifically because in general those who are ENabled to do so are the ones making the decisions about how and when and where the constructed environment is created and DISabled folks just have to suck it up because, yknow, ableism.

When folks call me “differently abled” i know that what many people are trying to do is “level the playing field” and/or “value what i *can* do as opposed to focusing on what i can’t” etc. And as i suppress the squicky feeling i get when people say that, i just want to tell you that you actually can’t level the playing field this way. And you certainly can’t challenge/change able bodied centric notions of what abilities are prized while you are still putting me up against an able bodied measuring stick. “Lowering” (ew!) that stick to “meet me where i am at” doesn’t make this any less so, and doesn’t make me any less DISabled.

When you are ready to get rid of the stick altogether and address the actual structural barriers which facilitate your access while depriving me of same, call me.

TL;DR i don’t like being called “differently abled” so please on’t do it.

And as a good general rule, you are not the person who knows best what words any particular disabled person “should” use to describe themselves. That is true whether or not you yourself are disabled (or any other wording of your choosing).

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